Flows of entanglement: how rivers shape identities
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This panel invites scholars from a diverse range of disciplines to consider the entangled and fluid ways in which rivers shape identities.

The language of rivers has seeped into our vocabulary, inspiring expressions and conceptions of everyday life. Fluidscapes oscillate between land and water shaping political, cultural, social and environmental discourses. We live on and by rivers, we have songs dedicated to rivers. We seek to cross rivers on ferries or bridges, by swimming or wading. Rivers break the banks into which they are confined, carrying within them traces of our imagination and memories. It is no wonder that time has etymological connections with tide as poets, artists, novelists and academics consider the ebbs and the flows of histories: reflecting and responding to the river itself, the lives it sustains, its cultural narratives and wider ecosystems. Rivers are places of connection but also of distinction.

Through this two day session, we are hoping to promote an interactive, informal and multi-perspective discussion that explores the meanings and representations of rivers, documenting how we live on, by, or with rivers. Taking the interface between water and land, we recognise that rivers are also murky spaces, dynamically shaping and reflecting the world in which we live. They are complex flows of entangled forms, species intentions and systems.

This panel is part of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment’s Biennial Conference, hosted at the University of Plymouth between the 4th and 6th September 2019. The conference theme deals with the complexity of entanglements through the theme of ‘co-emergence, co-creation, co-existence’.

Registration is open at the ASLE Conference page.

‘Flows of Entanglement’ will begin with water workshop on the River Tamar: responding to the sight, sound, smell, lines and imagination of the river as we move along its course. It will then be followed by an introduction by Dr Tricia Cusack (author of ‘Riverscapes and National Identities’, editor of ‘Art and Identity at the Water’s Edge’) followed paper presentations. Conversations will continue on Friday morning with sessions on ‘Literary Rivers’, ‘Fluvial Systems’ and ‘Everyday Identities’, followed by a roundtable discussion with artists and practitioners; scholars and river enthusiasts on diverse methodologies used to explore river contexts.

Registration to give a paper is now closed, but we do welcome any interested individuals with their thought or contribution.

Please email: flowsofentanglement@gmail.com for more information.

Map of key places

Conveners: Eva McGrath, Sally Sutton, Zoe Latham, University of Plymouth.

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Keynote Speaker Tricia Cusack

Tricia taught for many years at the University of Birmingham (UK), Cardiff Metropolitan University, and the Open University. Her research focuses on how visual art in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries embodies ideas about national and cultural identities. Her books include Riverscapes and National Identities (Syracuse University Press) and three edited volumes, Framing the Ocean, 1700 to the Present: Envisaging the sea as social space; Art and Identity at the Water’s Edge, and Art, Nation and Gender: Ethnic landscapes, myths and mother-figures, the last co-edited with Síghle Bhreathnach-Lynch. She has articles in diverse journals, including Art History; Nations and Nationalism; the Irish Review; New Formations; the Journal of Tourism History and the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies and Nineteenth Century Studies. Tricia co-edited a special issue of National Identities with James Koranyi on “Riverscapes and the Formation of National Identity”.

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